(originally posted at Hudder.com)
Huddler users asked Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, all your trashy questions (ha ha) over the past few weeks, and Tom answered.
In a nutshell, TerraCycle takes what others call trash, upcycles those materials, and turn them into brand-spanking new products. Who thought you could make a hot little tote bag from KoolAid containers or a sweet homework folder from Capri Sun juice packs?
And just a little fun fact to brighten your day, Tom was named “The #1 CEO Under Thirty” by Inc. magazine in 2006. Eat your heart out, Mark Zuckerberg.
We’re lucky enough to have Tom sticking around for a few days – so if you’ve got any follow-up questions, don’t be shy! Jump in!
Q: Hi Tom, thanks for taking questions. You’ve got a pretty big range of products I see (everything from rain barrels, to tote bags, to cleaning products). How did you get there from just starting with your original plant food product? (by Eli)
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line
(originally posted at Hudder.com)
The time has come for companies to think differently about their environmental efforts. To be sure, it’s refreshing to see more and more companies stepping up to the plate and making significant changes to their operations and investing in infrastructure in an effort to gain environmental benefits. These are extremely important steps, and by no means do I want to discourage any company from taking them.
But it’s time for the leaders to move on. It’s time that they look outside their four walls and find ways to connect with their customers in ways that help the environment. It goes beyond green products and competitive pricing; it’s about partnering with their customers for a better environment.
Increasingly, people of a widening range of backgrounds want to make a difference – in the health of the planet, their community, their family, themselves. And there’s a bewildering assortment of ways to go green these days. You know the usual: Swap out your lights, switch them off, drive a hybrid, buy organic clothes, eat organic food, shop local, reduce your carbon footprint, rah rah sis boom bah.
For many, there’s probably this nagging feeling they could do more. Or for many more, they’re just plain too busy and, let’s face it, too lazy to exert themselves much beyond how they live their life now. I’ve found a potential answer to both of these scenarios, and more: Go Green Tube.
It’s simple, really: You watch videos, and every time you do, a verified pound of carbon is offset. You submit videos, more people go there, and more carbon gets offset.
Can a new plan to halt deforestation of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest actually work? Last week, Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced a new international fund to raise money for sustainable forest projects. It is hoped that nations will donate a target amount of $21 billion over the next 13 years. Norway has been the first to commit with $100 million so far.
“We are conscious of what the Amazon represents for the world… It’s better for the country’s image to do things right, so we can walk in international forums with our heads high,” Lula said.
But the logic behind such a plan seems faulty. Global warming and the need for carbon sinks (in the form of rainforest vegetation) are cited as the main reasons for an international financial commitment to sustainable forestry projects. Brazil is only accepting money, however, if nations release any direction or accountability to how the funds will be spent.
Olympic Games have traditionally been a platform for much more than athletic prowess and national pride- and that’s certainly the case with this year’s Summer Games in Beijing.
Making this year’s Summer Games a “Green Olympics” has been a priority for the Chinese government. Part of the plan is the installation of a smart lighting network control system at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Village, which some 23,000 athletes and team officials will call home for the duration of their stay.
Picture Barack Obama rolling down the streets of downtown Denver on a shiny new cruiser bike. Or John McCain in the Twin Cities, baseball cards stuck in between wheel spokes to make his bike sound like a motorcycle.
Though these images may not be the likeliest for one to see, thanks to the Freewheelin initiative from Humana, they will definitely be possibilities. Partnered with non-profit Bikes Belong, Humana will be unveiling its new bike-sharing program at this year’s Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
Climate change is one of the most profound challenges of modern times. So why is it that there is such a serious shortage of greenhouse gas experts, climate-change strategists, and professionals in the field? After all, climate change will certainly affect all of our lifestyles and the way we do business. And while it’s undoubtedly important to develop rigid, international standards for greenhouse gas monitoring and management, it’s equally as important to have skilled workers in place to ensure these standards are put into practice correctly.Click to continue reading »
The California Public Utilities Commission announced last week energy efficiency goals for 2012 through 2020, estimating that the targets will save 4,500 megawatts of electricity generation, equivalent to the output of nine major power plants.
The targets set by the Commission will be updated in 2010, with the current interim goals going to the California Air Resources Board as part of implementation of California’s “Global Solutions Act” climate change legislation (AB 32).
PUC president Michael Peevey said in a prepared statement:
Click to continue reading »
“Energy efficiency is the state’s preferred way to meet our growing energy needs, as outlined in our Energy Action Plan. California has one of the most aggressive energy efficiency plans in the nation and today’s decision improves those efforts to reflect a coordinated and comprehensive approach toward energy efficiency in order to maximize saving in the coming years.”
As the largest consumer and small business bank, BofA (NYSE: BAC) can have a major positive or negative impact on the environment. Since March, 2007, the bank has taken on a $20 billion initiative to “encourage environmentally friendly business activity” over the next decade. Applauded by some and criticized by others, just how green is this bank?
Crystalline Tower Office Building in Manhattan
BofA’s new 2.1 million square foot tower is being heralded as the world’s greenest skyscraper. The building features a passive solar design, the use of recycled and renewable materials, and work stations with individual climate controls. Natural elements include the use of rain water and a green roof reduces energy use for heating and cooling.
Over the course of the past 4 years I have had the opportunity to work with or share market strategies with executives at social networking companies such as LinkedIn, Spoke Software, Visible Path, and BranchIT. Of particular interest to me was the ability to develop and leverage what I referred to as “Relationship Capital Management”; the opportunity to develop, foster, and share relationships within an organization (or ecosystem) for the purposes of optimizing knowledge management and revenue generation. (I posted some columns on this trend a couple of years ago on “Relationships as Assets” and Relationship Capital Management and CRM).Click to continue reading »
Imagine ex-cons doffed in beekeeping garb. Sweet Beginnings is a social enterprise that truly encompasses the triple bottom line, employing formerly incarcerated men and women to run all aspects of the business, including carefully cultivating bees to create high end honey.
Owner Brenda Palms Barber from the Chicago neighborhood of North Lawndale (where 1 in 4 is unemployed and 6 in 10 have had run ins with the law), was frustrated watching the revolving door of men being incarcerated, released, and incarcerated again due to the lack of available jobs in her community. She wanted to make change in her own backyard and worked with other community activists to create the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN). Each year, the admits about 200 people who have had run ins with the law into their jobs training program, U-Turn Permitted. They offer traditional job skills training like resume writing and interviewing skills, along with specialized classes in anger management, and cultural adjustment coaching.Click to continue reading »
“Half way is no way” pronounced Mayor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at San Francisco’s Department of the Environment in reference to his ambitious integrated systems approach to sustainability initiatives for the city. The Mayor held a press conference to announce and provide updates on about a dozen sustainable initiatives San Francisco has currently committed resources to. He also articulated specific challenges to implementing and “synergistically” connecting a number of those initiatives given the complexity of the current structures of governance processes.
As the second most¬†sustainable city in the nation, according to SustainLane, San Francisco maintains a healthy sense of competitiveness with top ranked Portland, says the Mayor. Cities were ranked based on 15 categories, such as green building, city innovation and air quality. San Francisco gained its ranking based on such sustainability initiatives as a comprehensive recycling program, large-scale composting, bike transportation, green buildings, and solar initiatives. Although the city by the Bay is setting the standards for municipal sustainability vision and implementation, some of the challenges to fully realizing the 10 year old Sustainability Plan are a shortage of affordable housing, less then adequate and efficient public transportation and congestion.¬†
New York regulars at Silver Tips Tearoom and buyers of Eco-Prima Tea are from now on purchasing products that are fully carbon neutral. Silver Tips, which sells over 150 kinds of teas online and runs a Tearoom in Tarrytown, signed a partnership with Carbonfund.org recently which completed its process of reducing its carbon footprint to zero.
The tea company is a brilliantly transparent example of how a regular business turns carbon neutral. The company, which runs a wholesale operation -Eco Prima Tea- since 1995 and opened a gourmet tea store four years later, has long been actively trying to reduce its carbon footprint.
Food Navigator, a European-focused food news site, reports that The European Union Commission has launched a marketing program aimed at building awareness of organic produce in young people. The main slogan of the program is: “Organic farming: Good for nature, good for you.” However, even with that slogan the commission insists it is not claiming any health benefits for organics but rather supporting the growth of the organic sector. It’s an interesting concept that a government agency might try and support two different approaches to providing the same product in one sector – conventional and organic produce. Is there a conflict of interest here when these two products are competing for the same consumer monies?Click to continue reading »
A brilliant idea does not necessarily have to be a successful one. In the recycling world this logic is as cut throat as competition is on the high streets; a lot of brilliant ideas and materials still go to waste when they’re not backed by the same people who actually gave birth of the landfill problem in the first place.
Kraft Foods, the food company, appears to have understood this problem and has become serious about tackling recycling by taking a refreshingly new approach; finding a niche in the recycling world. Focusing on upcycling, Kraft Foods is going to recycle its own packaging and materials that are known as hard to recycle. Kraft signed an agreement with TerraCycle.net, an upcycling specialist, which creates high quality but affordable items such as umbrellas, backpacks and purses from Kraft’s packages.